Saturday, September 25

Some quick thoughts on Hatchet (2006) and Anchor Bay's Blu-ray

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I'm almost afraid to admit it took this long to check out Adam Green's Hatchet. Most know this already, but this brutal, Hodder-powered slasher made waves on the festival circuit to achieve an underground happy median of success both at the box office and home video. It didn't seem like that long ago when copies of Anchor Bay's unrated DVD clogged Wal Mart shelves. Still, I was unswayed and my stubbornness towards this "it" woodland hackfest was the marketing ploy. I'll tell ya right off the bat. My hatred towards features labeling themselves with preemptive proclamations of greatness is what drove my disinterest in Hatchet and colored what I witnessed last night. Something is either tremendously strained or played out when you hear monikers of "Old School American Horror" or "It's not a remake. It's not a sequel. And it's not based on a Japanese one."

If one took Hatchet's taglines at their word, it might be "original" material, but besides that I assume Green's idea of old school red, white, n' blue horror consists of the usual caricatures aimlessly running around the woods while dodging an incredibly pissed off, deformed manbeast. This purposeful approach to the well worn concept almost feels condescending to slasher fans. Tits, bimbos, and wanton gore. Despite not being too from the truth, laying it out in such a direct way makes this exercise seem more an ode to the subgenre, not the "holy grail" or "rebirth" or "homecoming" of the slasher both itself and some reviews have purported Green's horror debut to be. The true offerings of the '80s heyday predominantly existed as a popular box office reflex; not winking reflections of themselves like this film. So I struggle with even calling Hatchet what it demands everyone deem it. I'd even go as far as to call such derided stuff like Venom or House of Wax more deserving of resting among the slasher proper.

So I found Hatchet needlessly self-referential and unusually slow, even after the slaughter began, but Kane Hodder is undeniably the man. The imposing ex-Voorhees hulk rampages through victim-after-victim in rip-roaring gory glee. Blood can't wait to spray from every direction upon every unwanted fleshy intrusion while sinewy chunks gloriously take flight amongst the bounty of mother nature. The underrated John Carl Buechler delivers some of the best stateside practical gore effects in years in the sad absence of Tom Savini. The combination of Hodder's raging performance and the unabashed display of blood platelets just makes it even more baffling it wasn't Kane's destiny to continue in his trademark Friday the 13th character. In fact, Victory Crowley might be the best generic backwoods killer in the genre since Jason.

Anchor Bay's unrated director's cut Blu-ray, currently just $15 at the Great Satan Wal Mart, simply looks excellent with a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer encoded in MPEG-4 AVC. Everything from the bright daytime Mardi Gras scenes from the oppressive darkness of Crowley's abode feature great color, depth, and fine grain structure. The blacks levels are a little pushed, but the studio deserves much praise for presenting Hatchet with stellar treatment that could be likened to a major studio's blockbuster BD output. The audio fares a little blander with the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track revealing some budgetary limitations. On-location dialogue sounds a bit mismatched at times as well as the occasional obvious ADR. All of the extras of the prior unrated DVD make it here along with a new commentary with Green and Hodder.
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4 comments:

Jayson said...

Also the Blu-ray is region locked in "A" :(

bruce holecheck said...

I actually caught HATCHET theatrically at White Marsh! It looks like part 2 is going to be playing next week in Owings Mills; are you going?

Jayson said...

Whoa, no idea the first played there! I'm still circling around the idea of seeing the sequel at the Mills. Still undecided.

bruce holecheck said...

I think we're doing the 7:40ish show.

Next week is the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake, unrated, at White Marsh!

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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